MILWAUKEE — On the morning after securing second place in the Wisconsin Supreme Court primary, candidate Daniel Kelly appeared on The Steve Scaffidi Show to discuss Jennifer Dorow’s gracious concession, the role of a justice vs. the role of a legislator and what he considers to be a “platform of dishonesty” from his co-finalist, Janet Protasiewicz.
Kelly began the conversation by declaring that his campaign process restarts today as he looks forward to the April 4 general election. He says that he spoke with his right-wing competitor Jennifer Dorow, who pledged her support to Kelly as he moves on in the process. Kelly further clarified that they never had any strife between them, and that their competition was never bitter like some people made it out to be.
“To all of her supporters who did such great work for her, I admire you greatly and I hope you give me an opportunity to earn your support as we move through the next six weeks,” Kelly said.
His attention then turned to his remaining adversary, Janet Protasiewicz, who dominated the primary with an estimated 46.4% of votes. Kelly expressed his opinion that Protasiewicz is a serious threat to the sanctity of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
“I’m looking forward to everybody who cares about our Constitution and the liberties it protects to come along and help us out as we go through the next six weeks and the sprint to April 4, because really, what we face together is a unique and grave threat that we’ve never faced before,” Kelly said. “My opponent is a candidate like no other. In my memory, I’ve never known a judicial candidate to campaign on a platform of dishonesty. That’s what my opponent is doing.”
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His stance was that Protasiewicz would push her agenda instead of staying true to the core focus of this role, which is to interpret the law as it’s written.
“That is a grievous and an ancient form of dishonesty that has been universally condemned for thousands of years, but that’s what she promises to bring to the Supreme Court,” Kelly said. “It really is to maintain the constitutional order in the state of Wisconsin and make sure we live under the rule of law, not the rule of Janet.”
Scaffidi pondered the role of a Supreme Court justice in 2023, questioning whether the goal is to strictly interpret law or to interpret laws in their original meaning while also translating them to modern times. Kelly did not agree with Scaffidi’s notion on what he called an “originalist” perspective on the role.
“Our constitution does change over time, but it changed according to its own provisions — as same with the United States constitution,” Kelly said. “The Office of Justice is created by the Constitution and the authority that we use is loaned to us by the people of Wisconsin. When they made that loan, they told us they want us to do one thing, just one thing. That is to decide their cases according to the law.”
He cited article 5 of the U.S. constitution and article 12 of Wisconsin’s constitution as case studies on this topic. Kelly’s independent research brought him to the conclusion that the courts do not have an obligation to change documents, stating that this process is what the legislation is for. Instead, he believes that strict interpretation of the law as it’s written should be the No. 1 priority of someone in his role.
In the coming weeks, Kelly will tour Wisconsin in a six-week push to gain momentum before the general election. He remains confident that he will have the proper funding to go up against Protasiewicz, who reportedly put significant amounts of money behind her primary campaign. Kelly remains focused on re-engaging voters — particularly those who backed Dorow in this race.
WTMJ is expected to hold interviews with both Kelly and Protasiewicz during the WTMJ Conversations 2023 event on March 1 — though their availability is subject to change based on scheduling conflicts. Regardless, expect to hear from both candidates on WTMJ in the lead up to the April 4 general election.
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